Belgian Tourists Build Amazon-Style Tree House for Tbilisi’s Guerrilla Gardeners
17 July, 2014
Belgian Tourists Build Amazon-Style Tree House for Tbilisi’s Guerrilla Gardeners
In Vake Park, on the territory previously occupied by a restaurant named “Budapest,” plans for building a hotel under the same name are being drawn up. However, a local civil activist movement “Guerrilla Gardening” has been protesting against the construction since last winter. Members of the movement set up a camp in the park and stand guard over the territory: their goal is to make the City Hall back down on the plans. It is interesting that foreign tourists are
frequent guests at their camp, with Belgian visitors even constructing a tree house. Remarkably, it is not attached to the tree with nails. Members of “Guerrilla Gardening” freely offer their comments on the issue.


Nika Loladze:

– Somewhere around the end of November we discovered that construction was beginning in Vake Park. We found out that construction of a five-star hotel called “Budapest” was being planned. None of us took kindly to this idea. “Guerrilla Gardening” is a nonprofit organization, but it is not an NGO – it is simply an initiative-driven civil movement.
So, in December we gathered and began expressing our protest, mainly via Twitter. By January we realized that social media would not help us achieve anything. Everyday control and monitoring of machinery entering and leaving the area was necessary because otherwise we might have been too late. Thus, we erected our first tent and started guarding the place. It’s summer now and the weather is nice, so 3-4 people stay every night. Our aim is to prevent the hotel from being built – an action directly connected to Tbilisi City Hall, which lifted the building restriction on the very area we are defending, thus allowing construction in a place where it was not previously allowed. A five-star hotel requires supply lines, parking, space for vehicle movement – all this in the middle of a park! They started the construction and even managed to dig out a foundation pit, but then we stepped in and prevented them from continuing. There has been no response from the City Hall so far. We filed a lawsuit, which will be taken up by court after the elections.

– Tourists often stay at your camp. What can you tell us about this?

– Our camp has attracted a lot of foreigners, creating a community of its own. A lot of them were initially curious about what was going on, and joined us upon finding out. Some of them simply liked the surroundings. Tourists come and go, and they are quite numerous. We make sure to inform them all about what we do here. Our camp has several rules, however: Alcohol is strictly prohibited, and don’t even get me started on drugs [laughs]. Naturally, the rules are upheld.

– We heard that you built a tree house without using nails. How did you manage that?

Luka Bakhsoliani:

– Belgian tourists built the tree house. It was not a challenge for them, since this is how they protected trees in the Amazon from being felled. They have a special technique that involves tying pieces of wood together using rope. The entire installation is literally grafted onto the tree. Nails were used in joining the boards together, of course, but not in attaching the house to the tree. We started with a model initially and then gradually turned it into an actual structure. The tree house’s frame is crafted in such a way that not a single nail is required to attach it.

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